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Past Articles Library | Creating a Landscape Plan or Design

A plan is a detailed outline of what one wants to do and how it will get done while the design is what one hopes to achieve.  While this may sound a little confusing, it is a very important step if you plan to upgrade, redo, or start a landscaping project.  But where does one begin when creating a DIY landscape plan.

Know thy space

The first step in this process is to know ones yard.  Noting areas where drainage is a problem can save many hours of headache and expenses.  I am a true believer that if it is not broke then do not fix it and landscape design falls into this mindset. As an example, if you have an area in your yard that is wet, why fight it but instead turn it into a functional and beautiful rain garden.

Also, know where your property line is located and any city regulations that may influence what you can have in your landscaping.

Know thy time commitment

Before you decide that you want a landscape that warrants a team of lawn professionals to take care of it, be honest with yourself in the amount of time you are willing to spend on mowing, trimming and overall general maintance of your green space.  It is fine to settle for less because in the long run it will always look better and working out in the yard will no longer be viewed as a dreaded chore but instead a manageable task.

Know thy budget

Never, never, and never start a project without a budget.  I have known several people that never realized how much they were spending until the project was done.  At that point, the ticket shock of their project hit them.  Also, always calculate the complete cost of the project.  This includes present and future expenses.

An example of this is when one considers building a decorative pond.  While the construction can be a manageable cost, the long-term expenses, such as replacement of plants, fish and liner, needs to be well thought-out.

Know the difference between a need and a want

Just like anything else, there are needs and wants of a project.  Have a clear picture of what these are before you dig the first hole.  A good idea is to list all the things you would like to have in your landscape and then arrange them as a need or a want.  Once this is done, number the needs according to importance.  Repeat this step for the wants.  After you have done this, you now have a clear picture of what you need to concentrate on as far as your landscape design.

Also, consider breaking down the plan into yearly goals.  This will help you reach your ideal landscape design in a more organized way without getting lost and losing site of the design goal.

Now draw it out and write it out

Once you have all the information noted above, it is time to create a plan.  The first part of this plan is drawing out the design on paper.  There does exist several different computer programs available for this but you can also do it the old-fashioned way and that is with paper and pencil.

Do a rough sketch first, noting all your troubles spots in your landscape, where the sun rises and sets during different parts of the year, where your home is located and any other outbuildings or structures, existing plant material you want to keep, where your property line is located along with utility lines, any hard surfaces such as sidewalks, porches, and driveways, and anything else you feel important.

Next, transfer the design to another sheet of paper using a scale.  This is not as hard as it sounds and is very important.  This scale will be used to draw out old and planned plant material to its mature size.  No more planting that oak tree by the driveway and then being surprised that it grew into the house.

If you get stuck on this step, place your design on graph paper.  This paper is already to scale, which means that each square is equal to some type of measurement that you establish.

Once you have all this done, now you are ready to add your plant material, new hardscape, buildings, landscape features and whatever else you would like.

Design elements to consider

  1. Always represent plant material at mature size even though you will not be planting it at that size.
  2. Consider where your focal point is going to be located.
  3. Lead your visitors to the front door through the hardscape and place the brightest flower or vegetation of the design around the front door area.
  4. Do not forget to note specimen plants, plant borders and areas where annuals will be added for seasonal change. 
  5. Make sure to add a key so that you can read your plan from one year to the next.

Decide on a color scheme.  A polychromatic color scheme works well for those who like to buy plants just for their color.  While this is very beautiful and more like nature rolls, it can be very distracting for a front yard space.  If you are a DIY landscaper consider using a color wheel and one of the four-color arrangements.  This includes monochromatic, complementary, analogous, and triad colors.


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Keep Seedlings Moist

When you have just planted seeds, keep the soil moist until germination.

If the soil dries out, the seeds will die.

After germination, allow the soil to dry out a bit between waterings, but keep a close eye on the seedlings until they are well established.

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